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Colt Lightning Medium Frame

v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
edited November 2014 in Ask the Experts
Was the medium frame 38-40 made in 1900, safe with high speed loads?
Does anyone have authoritative literature on loads for this rifle made in the 20th century?


  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    I have a Colt Lightning rifle. The Serial number is 451XX. I would like to know its date of manufacture. Any information is appreciated.

    "We become what we habitually do. If we act rightly, we become upright men. If we habitually act wrongly, or weakly, we become weak and corrupt" - *ARISTOTLE*

    **Like Grandad used to say--"It'll feel better when it quits hurtin"
  • walliewallie Member Posts: 12,171
    edited November -1
  • 62fuelie62fuelie Member Posts: 1,068 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    My understanding was that the Hi-Speed load was developed specifically to take advantage of the strength of the 1892 Winchester and that it wasn't recommended for other rifles or pistols. As with any development like this there were those who would fire it in 1873's and anything else that would chamber it. It would seem to be one of those things that fit into the category "just because you can do it, is it worth the risk?"

    There has been a lot of discussion about the 38WCF/38-40. It was always a .40 caliber bullet and many thought that the caliber numbers were reversed on it for some reason as it was a .40 caliber and the common bp load was 38 grains. When the .40 S&W came out it was greeted as the 38-40 born again.
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    Some older loading tables as Phil Sharps Complete Guide, just differentiate between rifle and pistol loadings for 32-20, 38-40 & 44-40 and give corresponding pressures.
    I've seen exclusions for the "73 and also markings for '92 only on HS
    factory loads.
    I guess my question is for mid range loads not max loads used in these guns.
    Colt in 1900 (date of this gun) first certified their SAA for smokeless so this Lightning shouldn't be a black powder gun.
  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    Book "THE COLT RIFLE 1884-1902' BY Ted Tivey ISBN 0 949742 96 1
    States that ALL medium frame rifles were for BLACK POWDER CAERTRIDGE So I for one would not Shoot HIGH SPEED. I have a number of medium frame and all of the 32 Caliber I have ever owned had oversize Bore compared to most modern rifles . It is my belief that the colt used a HEELED bullet in their rifle I have tried reloading and current .314 bullets you can push down the bore that looks near mint with a cleaning rod and it does not engrave the bullet. I can single load 32 S&W LONG hollow base wad cutter bullets and it will hold one inch at 50 yards factory 32/20 will not hold 24X24 inch target. [:(]as far as I know no one makes a hollow base round nose bullet or mold block to cast one[:(]
    and wadcutter will not feed unless you work the slide very very slowly[:(!][V]
  • v35v35 Member Posts: 13,200
    edited November -1
    Interesting. I just slugged the bore at .408.
    The rifle was surprisingly accurate at 50 yds using 40 cal lead solid base bullets and 7 grains Unique.
    Apparently black powder works well at bumping up bullets to fit oversize bores. I've experienced that in original 1860 Colts, Starr revolver and a 45 cal German dueler.
    On the other hand modern HB bullets didn't shoot worth a hoot out of my 1864 Sharps so shape of the HB plug needs to be proper.
    In your case, owning several 32-20 Lightnings, I'd have a nose pour mould made up and have the mould drilled for a hollow base pin similar to Lyman HP pin arrangements.
    I have a Lyman 41LC hollow base mould you could copy the arrangement from and scale down the HB pin proportionately.
    Maybe US or Australian moldmakers have something.
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